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Randy Reichert, Published October 31 2012

Letter: Bishop’s demands seem at odds with church tradition, documents

In regard to the ancillary bishop’s (David Kagan) letter that was read in all Roman Catholic parishes last weekend:

The bishop is making many presumptive statements and demands upon the Roman Catholics of the area that seem to be at odds with tradition, church documents and American tradition. While not specifically naming a political party or candidate, he makes it very apparent who he personally believes all “good” Catholics should vote for in Tuesday’s elections. And he implies within this letter that any variation from his pattern of thought and interpretation is in violation of church doctrine, in some manner.

According to the document Dignitatis Humanae 2, there is a basic immunity from coercion (implied or actual) in religious matters, and no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his or her own conscience, nor are they to be restrained from acting in accordance with their conscience, publicly or privately. How the document’s very clear statement in this regard could be interpreted in the manner in which Kagan is stating seems to be at odds with the concept of an individual being from our Creator, who imbues us with natural concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, and it is inscribed on our hearts (Lumen Gentium #16).

And Gaudium et Spes also states the church has a sacred reverence for the dignity of conscience and its freedom of choice. This would seem contradictory to Kagan’s thoughts that the “faithful” must follow all church doctrine and not use their God-given intellect or developed conscience.

And finally, in America, the founding principle that many people came to this land for was the freedom to worship as they chose and not be held hostage by a state-sponsored religion that dictates how they are to think and live their lives on a day-to-day basis.

In the American National Catholic Church, we respect the individual enough to allow God to guide their decisions in their day-to-day lives and not dictate who has a “right” way of thinking and who is to be obeyed as supreme ruler of thoughts and actions.We believe our Creator guides us all and works through us all to best achieve the kingdom of God here on earth, and our best function as a community is to worship and support one another in love. It seems that Kagan is in violation of these very documents and the tradition of St. Thomas of Aquinas.

Every judgment of conscience, be it right or wrong, be it about things evil in themselves or morally indifferent, is obligatory, and the bishop should redirect his energies to quality of worship and care of the people of God and less on political manipulations and campaigning.


Reichert, Harwood, N.D., is parish administrator and liturgist/musician,

St. Odilia American National Catholic Church, Fargo.